Thursday, February 21, 2019

YA ARC Review: We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

We Set the Dark on Fire
Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (February 26, 2019)

Description: In this daring and romantic fantasy debut perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Latinx authors Zoraida C√≥rdova and Anna-Marie McLemore, society wife-in-training Dani has a great awakening after being recruited by rebel spies and falling for her biggest rival. 

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class.

Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.

And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.

Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

My Thoughts: This fantasy sets up a very different world. It has an island society with a sharp division between the rich and the poor. Based on an ancient religious myth, high society gentlemen take two wives. The young women are trained in exclusive schools to be either Primera - the wife who is her husband's advisor and the social face of the marriage - or the Segunda - the wife is centered around the home and children. Both sets are trained in the same school.

Daniela Vargas is the school's top student in the Primera track. But Dani is keeping a major secret, her whole life is a lie. Her parents snuck into the correct part of the island and Dani is at school under forged identity papers. On the verge of graduation and marriage, Dani is approached by a young man who introduces himself as Sota and who knows way too much about Dani's hidden past. He blackmails her into working for the Resistance which creates difficulty for Dani. She has been following the plan to marry into power in order to provide a better life for her family and to achieve the life her parents want for her - despite not wanting the life for herself.

Making her life even more complicated is that the Segunda chosen for their marriage is a long-time rival of hers from school. Carmen as bullied and belittled her for almost their whole school career though they did begin as friends.

Dani finds herself in a marriage to a man she doesn't like who also isn't following the rules about these sort of marriages. She is supposed to be his adviser and partner but he is treating her as a not very bright minion. And Carmen is behaving strangely too. All of sudden not only does she want to be Dani's friend but she is encouraging romantic relationship between the two of them. Dani falls in love with Carmen despite not knowing whether or not she can be trusted.

This story is filled with twists and turns and people with secrets and their own hidden agendas. Dani has a terrible time trying to decide what to do and who, if anyone, she can trust.

The world building was engaging and Dani was a character that I was engaged with. I kept hoping that things would go well for her. This is apparently the beginning of a series because the ending lacks resolution to many of the plot threads. I'll be looking forward to more to find out how things work out for Dani.

Favorite Quote:
It took Dani a moment to turn to stone this time. A hundred shades of girl, he'd called her, and though she hadn't appreciated the delivery, he'd been right. Dani slid into her lies like second skins. It was part of survival. She had no doubt she could do what he was asking her to do. The only question was, what would she be setting in motion if she did?
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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